It is almost impossible to express how important it is to learn the language of your host country, at least the basics, and definitely more if you’re in for a long term adventure. Yes, it’s true, a massive population around the world speaks English, no matter what the country, but that is no good reason for you not to learn the native tongue. First of all, not everyone speaks English despite how it may seem sometimes, and I’d be lying to you if I said I’d never gotten myself into a sticky miscommunication situation in the past because I didn’t make the effort to prepare myself with some language skills. Stuff can get real pretty fast if you don’t know what’s going on. It’s also a matter of being polite, you’re a guest in this new land, and even if you know the person you’re speaking to can understand your language, they’d probably find it much more considerate if you at least made an attempt at theirs, and when they see that you’re trying to be respectful and open to their country and culture they’ll probably be more likely to help you out if you’re struggling. On top of all of that, the whole point of travel is to expand our minds, right? Grow our knowledge? So perfect. Time to learn a new language!

If you’re a travel enthusiast of any level, chances are you’ve already heard of the Pimsleur Language Learning System by Simon & Schuster, maybe you’ve even used it before to prepare for a trip or maybe even a job that required a second language. Well, as helpful and successful as Pimsleur has been known to be in the past, imagine how much more you could get out of it if you were able to bring it anywhere you go and listen to the audio lessons at your convenience. The Pimsleur Course Manager App lets you access all of your lessons (no need to buy them a second time) from your smart phone so you can listen and practice on the go no matter what your crazy schedule is (you are a travel freak after all, busy bee is your default setting). The audio of the lessons can play pretty much any way the music on your phone can, through headphones, speakers, or even a bluetooth device which means you can listen while you’re driving in your car. Go ahead and give yourself a high five for being such a multitasker. Wait just kidding get those hands back on the wheel what are you thinking?

The app couldn’t be easier to deal with. You’ve got your library, which displays all of your courses (each one you buy contains 30 lessons, and there’s tons of languages to choose from), click the course you want which takes you to the Unit page (ie all of the 30 lessons) and all you have to do is press play. Tying back to that whole great app for when you’re already super busy thing again, you can pause, play, fast forward or rewind your lessons from the lock screen without having to take the time to log back in. Perfect.

Pimsleur

Photo via Sarah Freeman

And as you probably already know, the actual lessons in the app are fantastic. No memorizing flashcards like those not so successful student years. Just a nice voice who helps you learn to speak the language of your choice the same way you learned your first language as an adorable little travel baby, by being exposed to some real world conversations that use words and phrases that you’ll end up using frequently in real life and practicing your pronunciation.

Pros

  • Free app
  • Easy and quick to use
  • Reliable, doesn’t malfunction or freeze up ever
  • Works on the go, including with bluetooth or speakers while you’re driving
  • Control from the lock screen
  • Replay the lessons as much as you want or need
  • Proven successful teaching technique

Cons

  • The courses aren’t the cheapest out there, but you get what you pay for so if you are really in it to win it decide if it’s worth it for you
  • Now I speak Italian but still don’t live in Rome
  • I miss Rome

Verdict

If you’re serious about learning a language (which you should be), and remembering it even after your time abroad, you need something more approachable than your dusty high school textbook and something more legitimate than free online games. To really learn a language you need to immerse yourself in it and hear it constantly, not in a once a week night class, and the Pimsleur app allows you to listen anywhere, anytime, as much as you need. As someone who has always struggled with language learning, even after countless classes (I have literally taken 5 in person Italian classes now and could still barely describe an eggplant), I can honestly say I wish I’d had this tool a lot sooner, because I’m making progress.

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Will you learn a new language with the Pimsleur app before your next adventure?

American by chance, but Roman by choice, Sarah is currently feeding her adventurous soul with expatriatism and pizza. Her finest moments are always on the wrong bus with a backpack and an upside down map, waiting to see what the world’s got for her next, so long as she can blog about it. She likes writing more than talking, dolphins more than humans, old movies more than new, and Rome more than anything else.

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